Bridging The Gap Between DoCoMo's FOMA And W-CDMA

When DoCoMo first launched 3G, they were under immense competitive pressure from CDMA operator KDDI to increase network speeds. Yet DoCoMo’s chosen evolution path was to the more globally common W-CDMA. Sadly for DoCoMo, at the time, W-CDMA was not yet ready for prime-time, so DoCoMo had to make some proprietary enhancements to get the system to work. Thus, using W-CDMA as a base, they extrapolated to FOMA, which could be considered “pre-W-CDMA” (in the same way we now have “pre-n” WiFi products). The big challenge for DoCoMo from there, was how to ensure global interoperability and roaming between FOMA and the eventual W-CDMA equipment. Skip forward two years to today, and NTT DoCoMo and Ericsson have announced they have completed interoperability testing between FOMA and some W-CDMA Ericsson devices. Phones using the U100 platform (where the platform is chipsets, software, radios, etc.) have been tested to interoperate with FOMA. According to Ericsson, one third of all W-CDMA terminals in the world use their U100 platform. This testing is good news for DoCoMo, whose FOMA launch was initially troubled, but has been gaining steam steadily in the past year. Bear in mind, there will still be some delay before customers see seamless roaming into Japan, but some of the bigger hurdles have been cleared.

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